Should Tim Tebow Thank God?

Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos’ quarterback and an evangelical Christian, has been the focus of massive press lately. Multiple fourth quarter comebacks have put him in the spotlight, but the intensity of press has been due to controversy over his “mixing of sports and religion”. One key driver of the criticism is that he often starts post-game interviews with the statement, “First, I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. Just Google Tebow’s name for a sampling of the hatred directed toward him over this.
 

Here’s a question to ponder: Would these Tebow-hating sports fans be so intense in their anger if he simply mentioned in interviews that he is a Christian, rather than made a direct statement of thanks to God? Think about it for a second.
 

Most people are talking about this as an issue of mixing sports and religion. But, whether they realize it or not, the intensity of anger is more likely driven by the specific words “I want to thank…” People are assuming that Tebow is thanking God for the victory. That may or may not be the case. But atheists and even many Christians recoil at that assumption because it implies God cares about a trivial sport and directed one team to win and the other to lose. That’s a concept that just doesn’t feel right to many.
 
The question I would pose to Atheists is this: How can you recoil at a notion about a God you believe does not exist? If the notion didn’t bother you, you would wave off Tebow’s statements as meaningless. But anger implies a fundamental disagreement with the premise that the Christian God would possibly work in this way. Who are you to say how God works when you don’t believe in the Bible as a source of knowledge about Him? If a powerful God created the entire universe, don’t you think he could work in any way He wanted, outside of how you think he would work?
 
The question I would pose to fellow Christians is this: If we feel uncomfortable with the notion that Tebow should thank God after a football game, what SHOULD he – and all of us – thank God for? The discomfort implies an underlying feeling that we should limit our thanksgiving to the things we think are directly attributable to God’s involvement.
 
Let’s see what the Bible tells us about what to thank God for.
 
There are three examples of Jesus thanking God. He thanked God for meals (Matthew 15:36; Matthew 26:27), for God’s overall will and method of revelation (Luke 10:21) and for answering his prayer to raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41).
 
Paul regularly thanked God in his letters for the members of the churches to which he wrote (1 Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; Romans 1:8; Philippians 1:3; Colossians 1:3; Philemon 1:4). He also regularly gave thanks for his salvation and God’s grace (Romans 7:25; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 6:17; 2 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 9:15; 1 Timothy 1:12).
 
Beyond these specific examples of prayers of Thanksgiving, all other verses on giving thanks tell us to give thanks for everything…there is absolutely no qualification placed on that. It doesn’t say “give thanks for only the things you know God was directly involved in.” It doesn’t say “give thanks for only the things you think God cares about.” There is no Biblical support whatsoever that God wants us to guess what he’s involved in and what he isn’t and then offer thanks accordingly. The Bible simply says give thanks for everything (Philippians 4:6, Colossians 3:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Ephesians 5:20).
 
So what SHOULD Tim Tebow thank God for? We can’t delineate between a football victory, his God-given talents, his health, or the opportunity to bring glory to God…we only know we are called to be thankful for everything at all times. Atheists may be angry about that, but they have no basis to disagree with Christians on when to thank a God they don’t believe in.
 

Today’s Thought:

Do you ever “censor” what you give thanks for, based on what you feel is directly attributable to God?
 

Today’s Action:

Kids learn a tremendous amount about prayer based on what they hear from us. If we are subconsciously “censoring” our prayers to reflect our own understanding of what God should be thanked for, this will impact their prayer life as well. Next time you pray with your kids, make it a prayer focused on thanksgiving, and encourage them to thank God for everything!
 

15 Comments

  1. Bryan Crain on December 15, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Every year our pastor gives the same sermon on what it means to be thankful. He repeats it each year because it’s THAT important. Here it is if you’re interested. Fast forward to 25 minutes to get to the part about thankfulness, gratitude, etc. http://marinerschurch.org/index.php/messagesmedia/messages/irvine-worship-ctr/1576-2011-12-11-joy



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on December 23, 2011 at 1:29 PM

      Bryan, Thank you for posting this link!



  2. Shannon on December 19, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    Totally agree, thanks.



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on December 23, 2011 at 1:29 PM

      Shannon, Thanks for your comment!



  3. Heather on December 19, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    I believe that being Thankful to God is giving praise to God and God desires our praise. Beginning everything in Praise of thankfulness you open God to work in your lives. But only to limit God to your circumstances you bind his hand to further bless you to what God has in store for you. So I believe the ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE is important to serve God and in that intimidates and convicts those who don’t have a relationship with the Lord. Thank you for allowing me to share my views with you and God bless Tebow for following the Lord and sharing God love to the world.



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on December 23, 2011 at 1:31 PM

      Heather, I love your point that the attitude of gratitude convicts those who don’t have a relationship with the Lord. Thank you for commenting!



  4. judy on December 22, 2011 at 5:46 AM

    i think its great what he did.i think we all should thank the lord for everything he does in our lives because really where would we be with out him? our younger people might look up to him and do the same thing. why as a christian should we hide our belief the world dont hide they believes.i admire him for being so open with his christianity:]



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on December 23, 2011 at 1:32 PM

      Thanks for commenting, Judy – you are very right, where would we be in the first place in the absence of God? Why limit our thanks to what *we* think is directly attributable to him, when really we need to thank him for our very lives?



  5. Bev on December 23, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    Tebow is living for Christ, and this is where that life has carried him. I initially was critical of kids imitating his post-touchdown prayers, because they just want to make a spectacle and don’t really understand what’s behind this thanking God. Then, it occurred to me, if Tebow’s actions lead to just one ‘imitator’ seeking to know more about why his or her hero does what he does, maybe that will lead them to the Lord. And I don’t need to be critical of that. It doesn’t matter what God uses to reach a person, just that the person is reached.



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on December 23, 2011 at 1:35 PM

      Great point, Bev. I too have been critical of all the imitators, but you are so right – if it opens the heart of just one of them, maybe it’s not such a bad thing. Perhaps they were convicted through that “imitation”. God can work through any means. 🙂 Thanks for your comment!



  6. connie howard on December 24, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    Having a Thankful Heart is like music tomGod’s ears. Tim Tebow is a wonderful role model and I hope christian youth and adults alike everywhere will step up and not be ashamed to give praise and thanks to God like Tim Tebow does!



  7. Billie Sorrels on December 29, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    This country was founded on Christian religion, and we as well as Atheists have the right to pray and worship as we wish. I will not stop praying in public or “Thanking God” for all my blessings whereever I am. I am sorry if that offends you Atheists but you offend me by telling me what I can and can’t do! I for one of proud of Tebow for not letting the public tell him when and where he can count his blessings!



  8. Jenni Hosey on January 30, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    Great points!



  9. jay salazar on February 6, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    what should it matter to anyone about his faith and being grateful. he’s just what the world of sports fan need..a positive influence for Christians and non Christians a man of God not afraid of what or who is looking on. everybody is grateful to something, he’s grateful to much more then anyone can ever say..God Almighty creator of things.



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